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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What is my Key West home worth?

What is my Key West home worth?

One of the factors that makes Key West so interesting is the character of its architecture and the diversity of its neighborhoods. And those two factors have a great impact on how homes are valued for re-sale in Key West.

The Old Town area has four Principal types of homes: two story Greek Revival structures built in the late 1800's through the 1930's; "cigar maker's cottages" (often called shotgun style homes elsewhere) which are one story houses with a long hall on one side of the house with all rooms opening onto it; "eyebrow houses" which are two story homes with a center stairway leading to second floor bedrooms that have unique windows that are situated so that they may remain open during a rainstorm and are protected from the elements by the extended roof that resembles an "eyelid"; and fill in homes built throughout the years including some post World War II modern homes.

The mid town and Casa Marina areas have a mix of housing types with the typical being CBS (concrete block structure) as well as some sporadic "conch homes -- a mix of Greek Revival, cigar maker cottages, eyebrow homes".

The new town area is mostly single family homes built in the 1950's through the 1970's. Most of these are CBS construction. And there are many condos built in the 1990's through today.

Many homes, especially in Old Town, were neglected for years--maybe decades. As Key West has been revitalized, homes have been remodeled block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. But not all homes have been remodeled with the same integrity or craftsmanship. Likewise, many homes in the other neighborhoods have been similarly remodeled .

Up north in America where many homes and neighborhoods are cut from cookie cutters, it is easy to extrapolate a home's worth based on what a similar home sold for. Realtors and appraisers do it all the time. Realtors' valuations are called "CMAs" (comparative market analysis) and are usually done as a tool to help obtain a real estate listing. Appraisers
are licensed by individual states after completing coursework that teach them how to value real estate. They should be an objective third party who has no financial or other connection to any person involved in the transaction. Banks engage appraisers to evaluate the specific property and compare it to similar properties that have sold in the area or that are offered for sale. I recently spoke with one of the co-owners of a large Key West appraisal company. He said his company is having as much trouble keeping up with valuing homes in a declining market as it had when prices were rising just as rapidly a few years earlier. Homeowners and investors would be wise to use the services of an appraiser when pricing their homes for sale. Some Realtors pump the price up to secure a listing, and then recommend that the price be reduced after the property languishes unsold. Time is money is Key West just like it is anywhere else. The prime selling time is between late December through Easter. Sellers who have unrealistic prices, especially in the tight Key West market, will probably have their homes unsold.

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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.